There was quite a lot to absorb while watching Netflix’s Tiger King. The docu-series gave us a polygamous marriage, a missing husband, a fake music career, a strangely shirtless interview, and a celebrity-connected, big cat-peddling peer, just to name a few of the jaw-dropping aspects of what viewers witnessed onscreen. Needless to say, it was a roller coaster of a real-life story.
However, surely the most outrageous part of the docu-series was the murder-for-hire plot. In January 2020, Joe Exotic (whose legal name is Joe Maldonado-Passage), the star of the docu-series and former owner of the G.W. Exotic Animal Park, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for selling cubs and killing five tigers, according to the New York Post. He’s also spending time behind bars for attempting to have his nemesis and the woman behind a famous big cat sanctuary, Carole Baskin, killed.
“Prosecutors said he offered $10,000 to an undercover FBI agent during a December 2017 meeting” during which he apparently was recorded saying, “Just like follow her into a mall parking lot and just cap her and drive off,” per the New York Post. Although Joe claims that he never really wanted any harm to come to Baskin, the jury deciding his fate obviously didn’t believe him, which is why he’s now behind bars … and it doesn’t sound like he’s enjoying his stay.
Joe Exotic says jail is 'worse than you can ever treat an animal'
“At the end of the docuseries, Exotic was still being held in a county jail,” according to Marie Claire. The outlet also notes that “it’s likely he was moved shortly after filming wrapped,” however, “[f]ederal records on the Bureau of Prisons website haven’t been updated yet to reflect his permanent residency.” We may not know exactly where Joe is at the moment following his time in the Chickasha, Okla. lockup, where we saw him in Tiger King, but what is clear is that he’s not happy with his circumstances.
“They strip you butt naked, put you in a six-by-eight-foot concrete room with no windows, no blankets, no nothing,” Joe Exotic said in a clip from the docu-series. “I’ve been stripped of my clothes, my rights, my identity, [and] my dignity (via Newsweek).”
In another clip, Joe can be heard crying while saying that he needs to get out of jail. “It’s worse than you can ever treat an animal,” he says. “I’m being treated like that in jail. I can’t do much more of this.” That’s surely why he’s now appealing his lengthy sentence.
Joe Exotic filed a $94 million lawsuit and wants a presidential pardon
Joe Exotic still claims that he’s innocent and has every intention of getting out of jail. “At some point the U.S. Attorneys office and Agents involved will have to answer to the fact that they participated in Perjury to obtain this conviction,” he said in a statement shared on Facebook on Jan. 22, 2020. “I was punished for taking advantage of my Constitutional Rights to not plead guilty to their very well-orchestrated frame job of murder for hire.”
Along with making other claims, “[a]ccording to court documents obtained by The Blast, Exotic … has officially filed an appeal in federal court.” Beyond that, he’s also filed a $94 million lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jeff Lowe, his former business partner who was also seen in the docu-series and former colleagues.
As if that wasn’t enough, Joe wants a presidential pardon. “The Trump Administration must be made aware of the Overreach, perjury, abuse of power and the failure to uphold the Oath of their position which is truth and Justice for all,” he wrote in another Facebook statement on March 19, 2020. “I have been illegally charged with these crimes and the Trump Administration, the United States Department of Interior along [with] the Federal Wildlife service must be held accountable for what they have done to me, my parents, and my family, along with my animals.”
Frankly, there are celebrities like Cardi B who are on his side, which is something that he simply loves.
Joe Exotic is 'over the moon' about his newfound fame
Following the viral popularity of Tiger King, the docu-series’ co-directors and writers, Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about Joe Exotic’s reaction to his newfound fame. Apparently, the Tiger King star “is absolutely ecstatic about the series and the idea of being famous,” Goode said while noting that the Netflix star had been calling him regularly. “He’s absolutely thrilled.”
Chaiklin backed that up, saying, “You can hardly talk to him without him mentioning the amount of press he’s getting. He says people are asking to see his Prince Albert [piercing] and girls are sending him sexy bikini pictures even though he’s gay.”
“He’s over the moon. Having kept in pretty close touch with him while he’s been in a horrible county prison, this has raised his spirits,” Chaiklin continued.
Chaiklin went on to say: “Joe definitely did some horrible things to his animals. He was very abusive to them and he shot five tigers, no question about it. But what has happened to him has also been hard.”
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